Student Perspectives: What teacher / support staff has made a positive impact in your distance learning this year, and why?
By Janet Le
MHS 12th grader
One of the teachers that has continued to make a positive impact on my distance learning is Ms. Ivy Nguyen. Her AP Statistics class does well in adhering to the class curriculum that we would have had during in person classes. Distance learning has severely decreased my motivation and engagement, but every time I attend Ms. Nguyen’s Zoom calls, I am greeted with energy. She also makes the effort to talk to the class, even though we are all zombies in the morning. Math is one of the subjects I struggle with the most, so I gladly appreciate that Ms. Nguyen has very concise presentations and notes. The homework assignments are consistently posted and neatly laid out in her weekly agendas. This has allowed me to manage my time better and reduce my stress. She has also been understanding throughout my technological difficulties and has spent time after school administering make up tests.
Another staff member that I have appreciated during distance learning is my guidance counselor, Mr. Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez has been extremely helpful and quick in responding to my emails about literally everything. The stress I had when applying for colleges was greatly reduced when I asked Mr. Hernandez about all the questions I had. Even though I felt like my questions may have sounded stupid or redundant, he always responded in a kind manner. I also had trouble with my schedule both first and second semester since I decided to drop an elective class to apply as a TA. This resulted in my attendance being messed up and my name not appearing on the correct rosters both semesters, which is completely understandable since all forms of communication to the office had been reduced to emailing. Mr. Hernandez was able to contact the right people and in a very efficient manner, which helped me and other staff members.
By Shivali Gulati
One teacher who has impacted my learning in a positive way is Mr. McGarry. Outside of teaching academy students English, Mr. McGarry has taken the initiative to reestablish E-Tech’s leadership council during distance learning. As our leadership advisor, Mr. McGarry guides over twenty E-Tech sophomores, juniors, and seniors in hosting monthly bonding events to maintain our academy’s strong sense of community virtually. Despite the overwhelming workload on students and teachers, he always enters our meetings with a large smile on his face, ready to engage with his students and turn our ideas into a reality. In particular, I admire Mr. McGarry’s dedication to not only making our academy-wide events as enjoyable as possible, but also how he encourages connections between the underclassmen and upperclassmen. From Star Wars references to Disney songs, seeing our academy come together with each event is only possible because of Mr. McGarry’s enthusiasm.
Beyond our leadership meetings, I have worked closely with Mr. McGarry and senior Aashna Gajaria to pitch E-Tech to several underclassmen over Zoom. With Mr. McGarry’s feedback, Aashna and I were able to pique the interest of eighty students by explaining our 3D-printed creations, NAF internship experience at Verizon, and involvement in the FlexFactor Business Program. As a senior, having the opportunity to represent E-Tech alongside Mr. McGarry has been so rewarding. I’m excited to see the future of E-Tech with Mr. McGarry’s leadership and positive mindset.
Mr. Barrett who is currently my teacher for AP Environmental Science has made learning about Environmental Science fun and engaging despite us being in distance learning. He has found ways that allow my peers and I to do labs that we normally would have done in person at home in a way that works for everyone. The labs give me hands-on experience about what I am learning and help me to learn better. As a result, I believe that being able to do the labs is a big deal. He also gives extra non-graded work that helps my peers and I practice, called enhancements. These have helped me to better understand what I am being taught and will help me receive a good score on the AP exam. Mr. Barrett makes a lot of jokes to help lighten the mood and make a better learning environment. Even if his jokes may be cheesy or corny they are still better than nothing. Mr. Barrett also does a good job of allowing everyone to get to know each other by putting us into random breakout rooms to work together. Mr. Barrett takes into consideration the difficulties students may be faced with online learning and gives plenty of time to complete assignments. I hope everyone takes environmental science to learn how to be more sustainable and protect the environment. It comes with an added bonus of having an amazing teacher.
The pandemic has thrown a curveball in everyone’s path, especially for the students that are missing out on a time that is made for memories. As a senior it was heartbreaking to realize I would miss out on the last big moments I would get to experience before starting a new journey. We started the year desperately trying to connect through a screen; we are in this together, but it feels like we are so far apart. Through it all my motivation came from my AVID teacher, Ms. Edwards. She has been my teacher since freshman year and helped me grow into the student I am today. She has always believed in all of her students, and I’ve never once felt like I was just a student in her class. I always felt like I was loved and seen. A thing I held onto from this school year was an activity she gave us. It was something most people forget to do, be grateful. It sounds like nothing major, but in a time where everything seems so dark you have to find the light even if you can barely see it. After that day I began to do it more frequently, and as time went on, everything didn’t seem as dark. It doesn’t seem like much, but it genuinely made a difference for me, and Ms.Edwards has always found ways to motivate, uplift, and empower us. She created an environment for our class to be like a family. At the end of the day, she is our biggest cheerleader, our shoulder to lean on, and the big warm hug we all need sometimes. She genuinely takes the time to take care of each and every one of her students, and she is the type of teacher I hope my future kids get to experience one day.
I have always had a lot of fun making connections with my teachers. Unfortunately, most of my teachers I only have for a full-year course, and it’s easy to lose connection. Being in the Academy of Travel and Tourism on the other hand, I am able to have a set of teachers that I see in class for three years of high school. Ms. Brownstein, in particular, has been such an impactful teacher, and it was only until this year when I was able to join our academy’s leadership team, that I had grown to appreciate her greatly. Every Wednesday when she hosts our academy leadership meeting, we are involved in student-lead activities. Ms. Brownstein would always be open to our ideas, and I'd say almost all of the academy activities have been thought out and executed by us, the students. One thing I really appreciate about Ms. Brownstein is her attentiveness; she works with us and understands us enough to understand our specific strengths. I take a special interest in being an enthusiastic leader who can lead groups of people, and noticing this, she would assign me to tasks that would help me further develop that skill.
Not only does she notice my strengths, but she can also be someone I can open up to about my doubts as a student. During college application season, Ms. Brownstein set aside time for us every Wednesday, to individually look over our college essays and talk to us about them. In this time, I was able to receive live feedback on my work and open up to her about my colleges and the expectations I feel as a student. Having this relationship with her has tremendously helped me in the great stressor of a pandemic due to the fact that I have a teacher who genuinely cares about me and not just the work I turn in. Throughout these years and the hours we encounter one another, I have learned a lot about Ms. Brownstein and how hard she has worked all of her life to push students like me to be their best selves.
A group of Milpitas High School students and members of the school’s Math Club are developing a new website that will connect Milpitas Unified School District employees with local property owners who have available rental units, including those in the new Robson homes with Accessory Dwelling Units.
“We will work with homeowners to see if they are willing to reserve their units for MUSD employees who are in need of rental units,” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan. “School employees are excellent tenants.”
The concept arose when Superintendent Jordan met with Mark Robson of Robson Homes in September 2019. The new 38-home development includes 10 houses with ADUs, better known as granny units. The unique partnership blossomed after Superintendent Jordan proposed the idea of reserving those ADUs for school employees to Mr. Robson, who, in turn, suggested that the students create an app for connecting school employees with homebuyers in the new development.
In her remarks at the Robson Homes September 25, 2020 groundbreaking ceremony, Superintendent Jordan described the concept to those in the audience. “For each of those homes with ADUs, Robson will connect new home buyers with MUSD team members in order to provide opportunities for renting the auxiliary units,” said Jordan, who attended the ceremony, along with members of the Board of Education, that included the issuance of a $200,000 donation from Robson Homes to MUSD.
In the audience that morning was MUSD parent Gregory “Spike” Jones, who was inspired to take on the project with a group of MHS students. Always looking for an opportunity to include MUSD learners in a project such as this, Superintendent Jordan welcomed Mr. Jones’ offer to guide students from the MHS Math Club in developing the home rental platform.
“I think this is a win-win situation,” said Jones, a Math Club advisor. “It will help both school employees coming into Milpitas and those who have property for rent.”
Students, under Jones’ direction, have been creating an online platform, which will be accessible only to MUSD employees who can search a database of rental units by homeowners. The concept has since expanded and will include more than just the 10 ADUs from the Robson Homes project.
“I just thought it would be nice if we had photos of all the properties displayed as well as the addresses and all the information,” said MHS student Keryssa Li, who is one the web development team members.
Jones noted that the students are designing the website as a platform while he will work with MUSD staff to integrate it on the district’s intranet once completed.
“I’m treating the students as an engineering team for what we call a skip level project,” said Jones, who provided the students with an authentic project development experience.
Once the platform is complete, the next step will be to make it accessible to rental owners, just in time for recruiting the next class of innovative MUSD educators this spring.
Superintendent Cheryl Jordan and the Board of Education welcomed the elected and newly elected officials who represent Milpitas and Milpitas Unified School District to the first school board meeting of the 2021 calendar year.
Evelyn Chua (Milpitas City Councilmember), Alex Lee (District 25 Assemblymember), Otto Lee (District 3 County Supervisor), Bob Livengood (San José-Evergreen Community College District Board Trustee Area 1), and Bob Wieckowski (State Senate of 10th Senate District) all virtually attended the special recognition. Ro Khanna (17th Congressional District Representative) was unable to be present but sent his regards.
“I thank each of you for being here tonight, and we look forward to partnership with you and the support that we give each other in realizing the vision that each of you have touched on which is ensuring that we have a learning community that is focused on safety, security, and the possible for every person,” said Superintendent Jordan.
Each of the representatives were given an opportunity to address the Milpitas community as part of the joint recognition.
“I’m really proud of, thankful for, and I believe in the MUSD education system,” said Chua, a 32-year Milpitian, first-time city council member and mother of a MUSD alumna who has worked alongside Milpitas HS student groups on humanitarian efforts over the years. “I’m really proud of the students. They are really the young leaders of our community and they are working hard everyday.”
Assemblymember Alex Lee, a member of the 2013 Milpitas HS graduating class elected to his post in November 2020, spoke highly of his experience at MUSD schools and how it helped shape his beliefs system today.
“There are very rare opportunities at any stage of life where you go to a place where you have the entire intersection of a community. No matter if you’re rich or you’re poor, or you’re athletic or you’re an AP student, or whatever category you fall into, we all go to school at the same place, (where) we all learn from each other,” Assemblymember Lee recalled. “I take that learning with me to the state assembly where I represent proudly my hometown of Milpitas.”
Livengood, another product of the MUSD education system and former City of Milpitas mayor, was honored to share the moment with the rest of the elected officials.
“I think Milpitas is pretty lucky. ...We have great people (representing our region), and they work really hard,” Livengood said. “I’ve been able to work with all of them at one point or another, and I look forward to working with all of you.”
Senator Wieckowski shared insights into the state budget process and status, stating that “help was on the way,” while Supervisor Lee offered an update on the COVID-19 outlook and vaccination rollout.
“I’m certainly honored to represent this district,” Supervisor Lee said. “We are definitely here for you everyday to make sure Santa Clara County stays strong.”
More than 200 Milpitas Unified School District employees participated in its first routine run of COVID-19 staff testing on December 15-16 before schools headed into the Winter holiday break.
In total, 213 COVID-19 tests were completed and submitted through Curative, which partnered with the district to help administer the non-contact, drive-through testing process for certificated and classified staff. Of the 213 tests, 208 came back negative with one positive result and four others deemed insufficient samples.
“Along with ensuring the utmost safety for all staff, students, and families, our intention is to test all employees monthly before moving to bi-monthly when conditions are safe to move to in-person learning support aligned with our MUSD EducatEveryWhere plan” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan, who was one of the 213 to participate in the first round of testing.
Employees, who were divided into four groups to avoid congestion, drove into the large parking lot at 1331 E. Calaveras Boulevard, stopping at four stations.
Without rolling down their vehicle window, the driver would show their QR code and registration to the employee who would in turn find that person's test packet and place it on a table at the next station. The driver would go to that station, roll down their window, pick up the test packet, and roll the window back up. At the next station, the driver would open the test packet and self-administer the mouth swab test while in their vehicle, as an employee looked on from outside, keeping track of the time and making sure the test was done correctly. Finally, the driver would move up to the last station, and drop their test packet into a test collection box before driving away.
This was a test run of a bi-monthly testing plan for staff that will continue in 2021 at MUSD, which has been proactive since the onset of the pandemic in implementing various COVID-19 safety measures such as promoting and educating social distancing and exposure protocols to staff, students and the Milpitas community through its Safety First Campaign.
“Our Safety First Testing Team made the process smooth and easy to self-administer,” Superintendent Jordan shared. “It was wonderful to see their smiling eyes, and begin this next level of safety for all."
A Q&A with Alex Lee, who at 25 years old won California's Assembly District 25 in the November 3, 2020 election. Lee is the youngest Asian American, first openly bisexual, and first Gen-Z Legislator in California history.
“I’m deeply grateful to the diverse communities of Assembly District 25,” said Lee. “The significance of our victory is part of a bigger, progressive movement ready to fight for a better future for all of us.”
Lee attended Sinnott Elementary School, Rancho Milpitas Middle School and graduated from Milpitas High School (2009-2013). The UC-Davis graduate will represent the 25th Assembly District encompassing Fremont, San José, Santa Clara, Milpitas, and Newark.
What were your experiences at Milpitas High School? Were there any Milpitas HS teachers that made an impact on you while in high school?
Milpitas High School influenced my outlook and politics. It’s a very diverse town and everyone has different political beliefs, and I think that was a strong empathy-building and relationship-building foundation for me. I got to experience through other people’s lives and working with them in classes, that everyone has different challenges in life and different experiences. Growing up that way, I really did want to make a difference in everyone’s life no matter their different challenges in life.
As a product of public schools from elementary school to college, I believe funding public education is important so others have the same opportunities I had. Students at MHS are very fortunate because of the school’s diversity.
Mr. Wrencher, Mrs. Bielski, Mrs. Roy, Mr. Roy, and Mr. Colburn were some of my favorite teachers. They were all incredibly knowledgeable and passionate.
When/How/Why did you decide to run for office?
I didn't think I would ever be running for office. However, I was inspired by the 2012 reelection campaign of Barack Obama in the fall of my senior year. I was deciding among a lot of things, including working in the film and TV industry. Ultimately, I think the Obama campaign sparked the interest in me, so I decided to pursue politics and government as an educational field as well as a career choice.
I've worked in positions that made me the best candidate to represent District 25. I've worked as a legislative policy advisor in both the state assembly and the state senate where I helped write and pass bills. The legislative process is something that is not new to me, and I understand how policy-making already works. When Assemblymember Kansen Chu announced he was vacating his seat, I decided to run. I knocked on 30,000 doors and that relationship-building paid off.
What does it mean to you being one of the youngest legislators in decades?
I have the distinction and responsibility to be a lot of firsts in California. I'm the first openly bisexual state legislator in California, the youngest Asian-American state legislator and first Gen-Z state legislator. That's an immense responsibility to make sure that more young people and more progressives are elected after me to break and shatter those records.
A contingent of former school board members joined current trustees and MUSD team members in congratulating Board Vice President Chris Norwood on his selection as the California School Boards Association’s State Board Member of the Year.
“We all share this award together,” said the 2020 CSBA Golden Gavel recipient. “I am grateful that we have this moment of celebration in these uncertain times, and I can give thanks to all of you in the midst of what we’re going through together. Together, we will continue to do what’s best for MUSD, the students, and the families we serve.”
Norwood, a Milpitas High School alumnus who joined the MUSD Board in 2014 and served as its president in 2019, was chosen among nearly 5,000 school board members making up 977 school boards throughout the state.
“We all know Chris and that he is a strong advocate for kids in the community, especially in Milpitas and MUSD,” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan. “His sense of ‘We’ and investment in building on the greatness that is Milpitas is quite evident in what he does.”
Former school board members Marsha Grilli, Bob Nuñez, Robert Jung, Dan Bobay, Gwan Alisantosa and Michael Mendizabal attended the November 24 virtual meeting to share in the moment with Norwood—who recognized each of them for the roles they played in his governance.
“I am grateful to have each of you as a resource to be able to call whenever I need or have questions, concerns, or ideas,” Norwood said. “Thank you for taking my calls, answering my hundreds of questions, and challenging my thinking over the past six years.”
The CSBA Golden Gavel is awarded to an individual school board member who exemplifies best practices in effective governance and boardsmanship. The recipient is also inducted into the Golden Gavel Hall of Fame.
“The circle of legends that you brought about today is inspiring,” said Board Member Minh Ngo. “They’ve all added to who you are today and yet who you are today is not the end of it. Who you are today is going to continue to really benefit all. You inspire us. You are a living road map of how to be the ultimate role model in the community and better our children’s future.”
Administrator Karisa Scott was part of a Milpitas Unified School District Team conducting home visits to families facing challenges due to distance learning. Along with MUSD colleagues Norma Morales, Raquel Villalobos, Nicole Steward and Henry Robinson, Scott sometimes made multiple visits to the same homes for regular check-ins.
“When we were doing home visits, the No. 1 thing after supplying them with the technology, hotspots and computers was that they needed more structured support for their children,” shared Scott, whose team has made upwards of 50 home visits since August. “They needed an alternative to learning from home, and this program is the impetus of that.”
Scott started looking into options for in-person student support based on the feedback she received from families when Michael Mooney, the director of the San Jose City College-Milpitas Extension, told her that the Extension could be made available.
“Campus supervisors at Calaveras Hills and Milpitas High School have stepped up and been amazing,” said Scott, who also welcomed MHS EL counselor Aldine Dimmick to supervise the EL cohort as well as regular support from Cal Hills Principal Carl Stice. “They make sure all of the safety guidelines are being followed at all times.”
Opening up September 28 at the Extension, there are 37 secondary students and five on-site supervisors encompassing four separate cohorts. Three classes are open throughout the entire school day, while the fourth, targeting Thomas Russell Middle School students, runs from noon to 3:30 p.m.
“A lot of the kids here have come out of those home visits,” Scott said. “Kids come and go because this is voluntary. We have some who have been here from the beginning, some who came in the beginning and have stopped coming in, and others who joined us later on.”
One of the cohorts is dedicated to MUSD's English Language Learners whose families “expressed the greatest need,” Scott noted. “It’s hard when there is that language barrier and you are alone with a computer screen.”
Families first must complete a permission slip for their students—who must submit daily health screenings, practice social distancing, and wear face coverings while participating in these learning pods.
“I feel very confident in the safety procedures and protocols that we have in place here. It doesn’t stress me out,” said Scott, adding that desk shields provide an extra layer of safety at the pods. “We are really lucky here in Milpitas. We are always focused on what’s best for kids.”
The small-sized learning pods have allowed Scott and other team members to make stronger connections with students who are struggling with their studies, some before the pandemic hit.
“We get to know the families and that 10 percent of students who are struggling,” Scott said. “This has allowed us to prioritize these students, and it has made them feel important and shows them how much we care about them.”
Robert Randall Elementary School Co-Principals Olivia Contreras and Kristan Prolo knew there would be many challenges for their students and families when Milpitas Unified School District committed to starting the 2020-21 school year in MUSD EducatEveryWhere with every student in distance learning prior to moving towards in-person support for those who are struggling with the virtual education environment.
But the Randall leadership team is not one to shy away from challenges.
Once the opportunity presented itself to allow for targeted in-person support for disengaged and struggling students, Contreras and Prolo put the word out amongst its Randall staff, as well as with the on-campus YMCA program. They also identified students in need of support for varying reasons such as having connectivity problems at home, parents are essential workers, and language barriers.
“The biggest challenge to bringing students on campus is safety,” said Principal Prolo. “Our movement and behaviors are very restricted. It makes it a challenge even using the restrooms or walking the hallways or eating. It’s very limited.”
Following Santa Clara County Public Health Department safety guidelines, the Two-way Bilingual Immersion School now has 45 students come to the Edsel Drive campus for in-person support—and it has already made a positive impact on student attendance and engagement.
“The teachers and the parents do appreciate it,” said Principal Contreras, noting that roughly 50 percent of families have accepted invitations for in-person support thus far. “Not all the parents are agreeable to having their students come onto campus. They are still leery.”
There are two second-grade teachers who host a handful of students in their classrooms for a full school day, with another Randall colleague scheduled to soon begin with sixth-grade students weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At the YMCA, the bilingual staff supervises students who range from transitional kindergarten to sixth grade. Randall is one of several MUSD campuses hosting some form of targeted, in-person instruction.
“We have multiple sets of siblings, and for them it’s a night-and-day difference,” Principal Prolo shared. “They went from having very challenging attendance issues to being connected and engaged.”
Randall staff perform daily health screenings for those students coming onto campus. Everyone must follow the safety protocols, such as maintaining a 6-foot social distance and wearing face coverings at all times. In addition, protective desk shields have been installed for students and staff. There is a capacity of up to 12 students per classroom.
Contreras added that a majority of the Randall teachers already utilize their classrooms as teaching studios during the school day. This is one of the milestones along our journey together in COVID19.
Superintendent Cheryl Jordan shared the next steps in the Milpitas Unified School District’s Phasing In 2020-21 Plan, as well as experiences with the ongoing, in-person support learning labs at various school sites, in her COVID-19 Report on November 10.
“Our team members are really concerned about safety for all and safety for themselves. It’s imperative for all of us to ensure that safety protocols and measures are in place, internalized, and practiced,” Superintendent Jordan said. “In order for us to launch Phase 3, we have to be assured that people are practicing safety measures.”
Phase 4, which advances the hybrid instruction to include middle school and high school students, depends on what tier the County is designated within the Blueprint For A Safer Economy, as well as the capacity of MUSD classrooms to allow for social distancing.
Daily health screenings for all students and staff, maintaining social distancing, wearing face coverings, and frequently washing hands, along with safety audits for all MUSD schools and classrooms, must be followed at all times.
“It takes every single one of us,” Superintendent Jordan said. “Milpitas is a special place. It’s special because there are so many of us that really hold Milpitas in our hearts and really have an open mind about living and learning with each other.”
Currently, 203 MUSD teachers and paraprofessionals, which makes up about ⅓ of the teaching staff, are using their classrooms as teaching studios. Of those, 35 educators are providing some form of in-person support to 204 learners on school campuses.
“Since Phase 2 in the beginning of October, we have had no COVID cases amongst that group,” said Superintendent Jordan, who wants to double the number of staff utilizing classrooms for teaching studios. “This COVID data lets us see what’s happening as we have been working to provide some personal touch that is in-person as well as distance learning.”
In addition, 16 team members have supervised 54 preschool students at the Rose and Sunnyhills Child Development Centers since March, with no COVID cases. At Randall and Rose elementary schools, where the district partners with the YMCA, there have been zero cases amongst 60 learners, with six YMCA staff on site.
In October, MUSD launched learning pods at Calaveras Hills High School for elementary school students and at the San Jose City College-Milpitas Extension for secondary students. At CHHS, 20 learners guided by five team members have experienced one COVID case that required the pod to be shut down for quarantine purposes per Santa Clara County Public Health Department Exposure Guidelines. It has since reopened with no further issues. At SJCC Extension, 33 learners with four team members providing in-person support have endured a single COVID case that did not require a shutdown per SCCPHD. Additionally, two COVID cases were reported among MUSD staff not working directly with students.
“What we’re focusing on now is inviting more of our team members to use their classrooms as teaching studios without any students in them,” explained Superintendent Jordan, whose goal is to have every MUSD student engaged in learning each school day.
MUSD plans to reconvene its COVID-19 Advisory Task Force Subcommittees to revisit and revise hybrid in-person instruction plans as the phasing in moves forward based on the conditions in the county.
“Like our (military) veterans who dedicate a good part of their lives to serving our country, our teachers, classified team members and all that make up the MUSD Team also dedicates a tremendous part of their lives to serving our community by educating our students,” said Superintendent Jordan, who will share another COVID-19 update at the November 24 meeting. “We must think about safety and we must think about keeping the virus suppressed.”
By Mehak Garg
In March, many referred to the global situation of social-distancing protocols, masks, and quarantining as “the new normal.” Schools were scrambling to put together online instruction, working parents were grappling with child care, and everyone was uncertain about what the next few months would look like. Now, as we reflect on the past seven months, our situation has become “normal.” Spending our whole day on Zoom is no longer new and leaving our house with a mask just as we would with our car keys is no longer a novel idea.
Going back to school this fall warranted a more developed plan for what online instruction would look like and Milpitas High School delivered on that. However, before we disrupt our “normal,” we need to consider what in-person instruction looks like.
Before allowing the entire student body to return, Milpitas High School should allow students who are struggling to learn in an online environment and need in-person instruction to return. Having a small percentage of students enter campus in comparison to over 3,000 students will allow administrators to see what improvements that might need to be made and what’s already going well. In regards to faculty, teachers who are more at risk of contracting COVID (older individuals or teachers with preexisting conditions) should continue to stay home.
I think when the county decides that it’s okay for students to return, Milpitas High School should give all students the opportunity to come back although online learning should still be available at that point for those who have an increased risk of acquiring COVID to ensure everyone’s safety. At school, lunch tables and seating areas should be sectioned off to ensure social distancing and students should wipe down desks before leaving for their next class.
Additionally, desks in classrooms should be spaced out and class sizes should be reduced which can be achieved by separating students by first or last name to certify fewer students are on campus at one time.
I’d love to go back in-person second semester but only when it’s safe for all students and faculty.
By Matthew Nguyen
First and foremost, I believe that a return to in-person education at Milpitas High this school year will be improbable and not a smart decision. While there is much to gain from in-person teaching, there are many more downsides and risks. The argument for going back to in-person school is that students will learn more and will be more engaged in class. There are more advantages like socializing with other students and getting out of the house, but for the most part this is the main argument to go back to in-person education.
However, the Milpitas Unified School District has done a tremendous job by implementing the distance learning system. At least in my opinion, I am still learning a lot during school. Yes, there are more distractions at home and less peer assistance, but at the end of the day, the learning experience is dictated by the student. Students make the decision to either actively participate in Zoom class and stay focused or doze off. One can even argue that going back to school and seeing your friends may serve as an even greater distraction from actual education. There is just so much to lose if we go back to school, for all parties involved. Remember that Milpitas High alone has over 3,000 students. The crowded campus will make the risk of contracting the coronavirus very high. And although students might be young enough to fight off the virus, the older members of their family will not fare as well in such a fight.
However, in the case that the decision is made that we go back to in-person school, I have some suggestions. The obvious first step in my opinion is to put students back into classes extremely slowly. The students going back should not have any relatives at home who are in bad physical condition or are over a certain age. Depending on the results of the first set of students, you can start trickling in more starting by graduation year. First, the seniors can go, then the juniors, and so on. Every desk should have a surrounding plastic screen as well as be 6-feet apart. Temperature checks should be taken before and after class. The mingling around during the passing period should be kept to a minimum. This means that people must be socially distanced during breaks as well.
Overall, is going back to in-person learning really enough to justify taking all these measures? In my opinion, no, it is not. To reiterate my point, going back to school is not a smart move especially considering the great job EducatEveryWhere has been doing.
By Emma Whitmer
COVID-19 has brought many changes to our lives, and the closure of schools is one of the most impactful. While it seemed like students would be going back to school at the start of the new school year, we are still learning online. In September, I was ecstatic to find out that schools could start reopening in our county, but our district has not yet given us a date on when our schools will open. I understand that MUSD can't rush this process, but I find myself growing tired along with many other students.
Online learning is challenging everyone in every aspect. We have to deal with loud noises, loss of motivation, and isolation from a standard classroom environment. I wake up to go to classes that are almost two hours long while I hear loud noises echoing throughout the house. It’s hard to focus, especially when taking assessments, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to stay on task. I’ve noticed a lot of my peers have mentioned they aren’t as motivated because online learning sticks us into a tiresome schedule of listening to long lectures. The flavor that socialization brought to an otherwise dull school day is now gone.
I'm no expert on proper COVID-19 safety protocol, but I do have some suggestions on the reopening of schools. To start, I think students should wear masks and practice social distancing if we were to return to school. Masks control the spread of the virus, so I think they are vital for reopening campuses. The district could send out surveys, asking if they have had any exposure to the virus or if they have any concerns. Also, temperatures can be taken by teachers to ensure no one is sick. People who want to stay home and people who are more susceptible to the virus can continue learning online. Overall, I believe that the return to school can be safe should the proper measures be taken.
By Cody Lejang
It is inevitable that students will have to return to in-person learning. The combination of lockdown, in addition to the increased workload stemming from distance learning, has been detrimental to many students. Students have increased anxiety because they are not able to interact with their peers in person. Teachers have had to come up with impromptu methods of administering tests and assessments. More specifically, lab science teachers have had the hardest task of figuring out a way to do labs virtually. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the school administration figures out how to transition students back into hybrid and potentially in-person learning.
However, for this to occur, safety precautions must be taken. For example, a mask requirement, daily temperature screenings, regular sanitation, and social distancing mandates are paramount methods of preventing and reducing the spread of COVID. Most importantly, the enforcement of these regulations must be strict and efficient, in order to ensure the safety of MHS’s students and staff. Students, along with their parents, should closely observe, obey, and understand the safety protocols.
A potential problem that arises when transitioning back to in-person learning is the difference in workload and pace. Relatively speaking, students will be entering a more lecture-heavy environment, in comparison to the previously workload-heavy environment of distance learning. Several dilemmas can stem from this: students may lack motivation in the classroom, experience an increase in stress, or simply fall behind in the curriculum. As a result, tutoring and/or student mentor programs need to be created in order to help students that are struggling to switch gears from distance to in person learning.
Additionally, this can be an opportunity for students who are excelling academically to help others, in exchange for community service hours. Ultimately, reopening school will only yield positive outcomes, as long as students and staff comprehensively follow the necessary safety procedures. There needs to be a mutual respect and understanding of the enforced guidelines and the severity of the consequences.